Best Camera Gear Picks For Bird Photography
Whether you’re new to the world of bird photography or are a gear fanatic (just like us!), we’ve got some great recommendations for cameras, lenses, and accessories that can help you take your bird photography to new heights.
The first piece of gear to pick up when you’re ready to further explore the world of birding is a great camera body. Here are a few of our favorite picks.
Best Cameras for Birding
Featuring an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, 61-point autofocus system, and 12 fps burst rate, the Canon EOS 1DX is deftly designed for capturing objects in motion. Pair that with the magnesium alloy, weather-sealed body, and vertical grip (featuring an extra shutter button!), this full-frame camera is an unbeatable option for capturing the flight and feathers of birds in any weather.
This intelligently designed digital camera features extensive controls and improved sensitivity, making it ideal for wildlife photography and capturing all the action of the great outdoors. The updated AF system makes it easier to snap moments in motion, and the 20.8-megapixel CMOS sensor means your bird photos are going to be sharp and beautiful. We also love the touch screen — it makes it easy to adjust settings while you’re busy shooting.
If you’re on the hunt for a pro-level camera that is weather-sealed and optimized for action photography, look no further than the 7D Mark II. Many photographers love this for action and sports photography, which means you can capture every minuscule movement of the birds when you’re out shooting. The extensive ISO range provides incredible color in all lighting scenarios, meaning you can capture incredible animal photos morning, noon, and night. This rugged camera makes an amazing birding companion.
While your camera body does a lot of the lifting, an impressive long lens can really do a lot to improve the quality of your images. We’ve picked just a few of our favorite bird photography lenses just to get you started.
Any of the 600mm f/4 lenses from Canon would be a showstopping addition to any bird photographer’s kit. The top-of-the-line design delivers truly outstanding image quality. The long focal length delivers world-class sharpness, contrast, and color - even when photographing small birds. The Optical Image Stabilization ensures crisp, high-quality images without extensive blurring, as well. Plus, the large aperture coupled with the narrow 4°11" angle of view means that these lenses are able to produce the very highest magnifications with the required fast shutter speeds, making them ideal for capturing quick-moving animals like birds.
We’ve got a few variations of the Nikon 500mm f/4 telephoto lenses on our site right now, and truthfully, you can’t go wrong with any of them. While there are some differences — some featuring Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, for example — these Nikon lenses are renowned, top-of-the-line options for good reason. Sturdy glass with top-level sharpness, contrast, and color? High magnification and top-tier optical performance? Talk about the ultimate lens for any bird photography fanatic.
The Tamron 150-600mm are some of the best birding lenses on a budget, hands down. These super-telephoto zoom lenses boast an impressive balance of performance capabilities and tremendous reach in a more compact, portable size. We love Tamron’s Vibration Compensation optical image stabilization system — it’s able to counteract any potential sharpness reduction with ease to help ensure each bird photo you snap is crisp and clear.
Other Photography Gear
After you’ve invested in an amazing camera body and lens (or two!) for birding, the icing on the cake is adding some birding accessories. A gimbal and a ball head are two kit additions that can change the game for any bird photography. We’ve got some incredible accessories on the site — here are two of our favorites.
A gimbal head is a great way to make that heavy telephoto lens and sturdy camera body seem nearly weightless. The Sirui PH-20 is made of exceptionally strong carbon fiber and aluminum alloy. And while it can support up to 40 pounds of weight, it clocks in at a mere 2.4 pounds itself, so it won’t add much bulk to your birding kit. With a horizontal range of 360° and a tilt range of +150° and -60°, and the ability to be moved with a small amount of force, this gimbal head is the dream for capturing birds on the move.
This ball head boasts some impressive stats — it’s able to support nearly 90 pounds of camera and lens while weighing just 1.6 pounds itself. The UBH-45x essentially acts as a gimbal and pan/tilt head in one, making it multifunctional for any type of photography. Plus, with the leveling base calibrated to .1 degree of accuracy, this little gadget will help you see and snap the best bird photos possible.
When it comes to nature photography, the right camera equipment is essential.
If you’re on the hunt for more cameras, lenses, or accessories to help build out your bird photography kit, make sure to check out our site and browse for other gear as our stock is always updating.